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Les enfants du paradis: The Restored Edition [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: French LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: PG
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 10, 2012
  • RRP: £24.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

1945’s Les enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise) from director Marcel Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, the same working duo responsible for the 1938 pre-noir masterpiece Le quai des brumes, is a lavish and grand romantic masterpiece. Set in the Parisian theatre scene of the 1840s, the story is multilayered, with stories within stories and stage plays within the film itself. It mainly revolves around the flirtatious and tarty Garance (Arletty) and the three men all vying for her love. Firstly there is the quiet and talented mime Baptiste (Jean-Louis Barrault) whose big heart and pure devotion to Garance leave him the most vulnerable amongst his competitors which include the criminally minded Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), the pretentious actor and Lothario, Frédérick (Pierre Brasseur) and the wealthy Count Edward de Monteray (Louis Salou), who will use his influence to ensure he obtains possession of Garance when she is most vulnerable.  At the center of the conflict is the true love  that the star-crossed lovers Garance and Baptiste share, but the two will inevitably be victims of their circumstances. Taking place in two distinct acts, the film’s triumphs are in its conveyance of human passions and desires, its meticulous recreation of the era and the overwhelming circumstances the filmmakers overcame to create such a beautiful vision. Les enfants du paradis was filmed over the course of two years during the Nazi occupation, done right under the noses of the invaders, yet it evokes a world devoid of the doom of the surroundings in which it was created; that may be its greatest achievement.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Les enfants du paradis has undergone an extensive restoration and reconstruction by Pathé from the original nitrate negative and two nitrate fine grain masters scanned at 4K. Refurbishing was done at Ritrovata (Bologna) while reconstruction and picture restoration done by Éclair Laboratoires (Paris). While viewing the side-by-side comparisons available on this disc, it is easy to see the vast improvement that has been made. With that being said, at times the soft focus of the original shots and the restoration process lead to the image looking just a bit too smooth and lacking in finer details. There are also some places where there are some unavoidable issues like banding and posterization to varying degrees as a result of the different sources used to reconstruct the film.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The sound was restored from the original sound negative scan and the original monaural mix is offered as a LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) track. It sounds rather boxy and muffled, but this is also unavoidable. Most of the time, the audio is more than adequate given the period it was recorded and the material.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

A rather strong, even if slight, selection of supplements is provided. They offer a lot of good information on how the restoration and reconstruction on the film was undertaken as well as historical information on the production of the film itself.

The supplements:

  • Theatre, Love and War: Making Les enfants du paradis (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:51:42)
  • Les enfants du paradis: The Restoration of a Classic (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:07:34)
  • Once Upon a Time…Les enfants du paradis (1.78:1; SD/PAL; 00:51:17)
  • Restoration Before and After
  • Trailer (1.37:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

To call Les enfants du paradis miraculous wouldn’t be hyperbole. Its luxuriant sets, the quiet beauty of pantomime, the pain of unrequited love – this is humanity played out before us with beatific resonance, charm, subtle grace, melancholy, pain, and all that goes along with living. This restoration isn’t flawless, but it is easy to see the hard work that went into bringing this masterwork back. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B008B91830[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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